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News and events in Pittsfield, Mass.

The Independent Investor: A Tale of Two Chinas
By Bill Schmick,
05:40PM / Thursday, January 07, 2016

For years, investors bought into the China story. Growth rates twice as fast as the rest of the world, fueled by sky-rocketing exports made competitive by billions of hard-working, low-wage employees grateful to have a job. What happened?

Times have changed. Back in the late 1970s when China first opened its fledgling economy to foreign investment, manufacturing became the chief driver of economic growth, which led to increased exports, more foreign investment and double digit growth rates. The powerful Communist government controlled the process through its sponsorship of state-owned enterprises. These mammoth companies became the symbols of a new "Chinese Authoritarian

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Lanesborough Selectmen Approve New Survey On School Project
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:30AM / Thursday, January 07, 2016
Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch refutes a sentence in the draft survey which claims Williams College does not pay property taxes.

"Williams College is the largest taxpayer in Williamstown. In FY 2015, Williams College paid $775,497 in property taxes to the Town of Williamstown based on a taxable assessed value of $49,679,500," Hoch wrote in an e-mail to Paul Sieloff.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen will both hold a special town meeting to discuss the upcoming building project as well as survey registered voters.   The Selectmen on Wednesday approved mailing a questionnaire out to all registered voters with four questions. The survey is completely

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Inauguration 2016
by Soapbox 02:00PM / Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Kids 4 Harmony Provided The Music At The Inauguration Reception
by Soapbox 08:38PM / Monday, January 06, 2014

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by Soapbox 04:10PM / Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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Citizens Bank Offers Financial Literacy Funding for Non-Profits
04:24PM / Wednesday, January 06, 2016

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – As part of an ongoing commitment to give people the confidence and tools they need to budget, save, invest and be fiscally healthy, Citizens Bank is now accepting applications from nonprofits for crucial financial literacy services that help consumers manage their money better.

From Jan. 4 through Jan. 29, organizations throughout the bank's 11-state footprint are invited to submit an application for up to $50,000 in funding as part of the bank's Citizens Helping Citizens Manage Money financial literacy initiative. Eligible financial literacy activities include:

• Basics of banking and asset building

• Budgeting

• Homeownership

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Macy's at the Berkshire Mall Will Close
Staff Reports,
03:42PM / Wednesday, January 06, 2016

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Berkshire Mall is about to take another hit with the closure of Macy's in the next couple months.

Employees were reportedly told on Wednesday that the store would close after nine years. A formal announcement is expected Thursday. Macy's reported the closure in a release on its website on Wednesday afternoon.

iBerkshires also has reached out to the mall's owners and Macy's for confirmation.

Macy's, with nearly 800 locations, is the largest department store by sales in the nation. But it's been battered over the last year by dropping sales and declining foot traffic at malls. It has closed 52 stores in the past five years, although

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Retirees Need 'Longevity Strategy'
11:25AM / Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The late, great Yogi Berra supposedly said it: “The future ain’t what it used to be.” And the same could be said of retirement.

Due to several factors, such as advances in health care, today’s retirees are living longer, more active lives than their predecessors. In fact, you could spend two, or even three, decades in retirement – which means you need a “longevity strategy.”

Such a strategy needs to be part of your overall retirement income strategy, but here are five key areas you’ll need to address:

* Lifestyle: What do you plan to do during your retirement years? Travel the world? Stay close to home and pursue your hobbies? Volunteer?

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Berkshire County 4-H Holds Awards & Recognition Event
Community Submission,
09:52PM / Tuesday, January 05, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — More than 100 people gathered at the  Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires on Dec. 6 for the Berkshire County 4-H Community's annual awards and recognition event.  

The candy factory-themed night was to celebrate achievements by 4-H members. Opening remarks were given by Linda Horn, assistant director of the Massachusetts 4-H Youth Development Program, University of Massachusetts Extension in Amherst.

The highest award given in Berkshire County 4-H is the Top H Award, which can only be won by a 4-H'er once as a junior member and once as a senior member. The nominees are selected by a judging committee using their 4-H records; those nominated

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School Survey Debate Expands Across Lanesborough Government
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:25AM / Tuesday, January 05, 2016
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — A proposed survey of residents about the upcoming Mount Greylock Regional School building project has triggered heated debate across town government.   The latest is from Finance Committee members, who questioned the legality of using money from a revolving account set aside for regionalization studies to conduct it.    "I say let the lawyer tell us if we can legally use it," committee member Steven Wentworth said. "Can we legally use those funds? That's the question."   Fellow member Ronald Tinkham said there is $7,800 left over from a prior grant inside a revolving account that he suggests taking to conduct the

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Tyer, New Council Leadership Takes Office With Shared Focus
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:10PM / Monday, January 04, 2016
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council Chambers were packed from wall to wall and poured out into the hallway when Linda Tyer took to the podium. Local and out-of-state news outlets turned their cameras and microphones and voices recorders on. Pittsfield Community Television aired it live.    "It is for all of you, our senior citizens and our young learners, our business leaders and their hardworking employees, our artists and cultural leaders, our dreamers and achievers. It is for all of you I devote myself to building a modern government that seeks opportunity and races toward it," Tyer proclaimed as she delivered her inaugural address.    But in the

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County Ambulance Offers EMT/Basic Training Program
02:11PM / Monday, January 04, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — County Ambulance will be offering an EMT/Basic Training program from Jan. 11 through April 9.

The program covers the National Emergency Medical Services Educational Standards and prepares the student for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians practical and cognitive testing. Upon completion of the program and successful certification with the National Registry of EMTs, students will be able to apply for certification by the Massachusetts Office of Emergency Medical Services.

Lead instructors have more than 100 years of experience to best prepare students for a successful training experience.

Classes will be held at County Ambulance

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Town Players Seeks Directors, Plays
02:05PM / Monday, January 04, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Town Players of Pittsfield is seeking prospective directors and play submissions for its 2016-17 season.

Town Players is a nonprofit community theater celebrating its 95th year, making it the oldest theater in Berkshire County and one of the oldest, continually running, nonprofit theaters in the country.

Those interested in directing should send a proposal and a brief resume with contact information to townplayersofpittsfield1921@gmail.com. Opportunities are available to direct both full productions as well as staged readings.

Proposals should be received by Feb. 15 to be considered for the upcoming season. This is a volunteer position.

Play submissions may be

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Berkshire Tidbits: Food Pantry Donations Sought, Farmer's Market Returns
By Judith Lerner, Special to iBerkshires
01:54PM / Monday, January 04, 2016

CHP Family Services Pantry
Needs Nutritious Food Donations

  At Christmastime, a nice size ad in the Southern Berkshire Shopper's Guide with the words, "PLEASE HELP US" inside a festive green ribbon caught my attention. I saw, "Help the Family Services Food Pantry at CHP" in much smaller type.   Community Health Program provides high-quality health care to more than 16,000 Berkshire residents of all ages and economic levels. They are best-known for their Women, Infants and Children/WIC programs of nutrition services and access to healthy food.   There was a photo of packaged food and a

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OLLIís Winter Semester Begins Jan. 12
01:34PM / Monday, January 04, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — OLLI, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College, offers over a dozen courses this winter, ranging from photography to illuminated manuscripts, in Pittsfield, Lenox and Great Barrington.

“Our winter semester is one of our busiest. The new year is the perfect time to enjoy learning something new and interesting while meeting new people," OLLI Director Megan Whilden said.  "And there's no tests, no grades, and no formal educational requirements for taking our courses, just learning for the joy of learning!"

OLLI is a member-run organization that offers educational, social and volunteer opportunities designed

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